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Preschool: How Early Is Too Early?

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Guest blogger Angela Chee: If you'd asked me when I didn't have kids if starting school at 2 is too early, I would have said yes. But now, I think it's great for my son and his learning and development. He was ready. When I left the first day, there was no crying or struggle. He was like, "Later, Mom!"

2 year old girl drawing with crayons at table

Having him start school so early made me think about how advanced our kid will be, and the type of competitionhe'll face as he gets older. As a new mom, I heard a lot about the cutthroat world of kindergarten. Kindergarten? I didn't learn my ABC's until kindergarten. In fact,sincemy first language was Mandarin Chinese, I didn't learn English until kindergarten!

I can see it now, my son giving his second grade book report on PowerPoint using video he edited himself and then linked to his Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts. Just kidding -- or am I?

Are we pushing our kids too fast? There is a big debate on whether or not early exposure to academics actually helps or hurts them. Some experts say academic preschools offer no long-term advantages academically, but only make kids more anxious. Supporters of academic preschools disagree, saying children are like sponges, and the more you expose them to, the better. I'm somewhere in the middle.

Even though my son is at a play-based preschool, somehow he still learned his ABC's and 123's. For now, I'm happy with him learning how to play with others, how to listen, how to share and how to learn. It's amazing how much circle time and snack time can do!

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18 comments so far | Post a comment now
CC October 11, 2010, 9:28 AM

I think it’s great to expose kids to social situations and learning at an early age. You don’t have to grill them with flashcards, but if they’re ready and willing to learn their ABC’s, how to count, or the fundamentals of reading, give them the opportunity! Little ones are like sponges - certainly some move faster than others with some tasks, but they’re always willing to learn something new. It’s really great that the preschool you chose is play based as well; plenty of time to exercise that imagination and practice social skills! Good luck :)

Sara October 11, 2010, 10:27 AM

My daughter started “school” when she was almost two a half day a week. She loved the social interaction and I loved having some me time.

Anonymous October 11, 2010, 10:36 AM

The right age to start depends on the kid. Preschool is a great way to give them a chance to play with other kids.

Zara October 11, 2010, 12:43 PM

My son is 7 and a half and I still feel he’s too young to go to school. And I don’t think it would be fair to him to be stuck in a room with 20 other small children for 7 or 8 hours a day, which is why I homeschool. My kids get plenty of academic AND social time, all while still having their parents as their main influence. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love a little me time, too, but they word is little. I don’t want my young children gone for hours and hours, every day.

AV October 11, 2010, 12:56 PM

I agree with CC. I think a play-based preschool at age 2 is great exposure for kids. My 15-month old is with a great nanny all day so I’m enrolling him in a 2-3 hour program 2-3 days a week so that he can socialize with other kids his age and have some structure to his day.

Sarah October 11, 2010, 9:07 PM

My daughter is a little over 2 and knows her abc’s to say them and regconize them. She can count to 10 in english to 5 in spanish and can also regconize 1-10 to see them. She knows some colors and can tell you what an octogon is. All done at home. None of it was pushed. She is like a sponge and eager to learn. I’d love to put her in preschool because she loves kids but at the same time she’s my baby and I want her home with me. School will come soon enough.

KS October 11, 2010, 9:44 PM

Actually researchers are finding out that labeling children as “gifted” at such a young age is no clear indicator of them actually being gifted later on. only about 10% of children who are labeled gifted at preschool age actually test at gifted ranges in middle school.

Learning is never bad. Then again what’s stopping any parent from teaching their children the same skills at home. Our three year old is reading as well as every other basic skill taught in pre school. Putting him in pre school would hold him back at this point. Do I think he is gifted? NO, I think he has parental involvement and constant gentle guidance. Learning is fun at our house. Our two year old is well on his way to being ahead of the pre school curriculum too.

Intelligence is a much more developed SKILL than was ever once thought of. Researchers are now starting to see that people can do simple things to increase their IQ by drastic measures where just a few short years ago it was thought you were born with what you got and that’s that.

The school you go to matters but what your parents provide in the home by way of a learning environment is crucial. And yes young children are sponges. Expecting perfection is unnecessary and will harm your child. Showing them you love to learn and providing ample opportunity to naturally gain knowledge will never hurt your child.

Daniel Richie October 12, 2010, 3:20 AM

You can make your kids learn as soon as they start walking, may be before that. You can always take help of new forms of educational products to help kids learn new things without burdening them at this tender age. sites like are doing a great job by providing fun filled means of education to toddlers.

XXXX October 13, 2010, 9:11 AM

Push, push, push, That’s all parents do to their kids these days.

Selmada November 4, 2010, 3:58 PM

I think all kids are different and each should be offered the opportunity when they are ready.

My 17 month old twins go to playgroups and drop ins with story and circle time, crafts etc )with parent/caregiver involvement). They get lots of socialization and structure, there and the playgrounds.

I doubt they will go to school before kindergarden. We read together at home. We practice colors and shapes and when the time is right, numbers and letters. We learn everyday, in every activity by talking about what we see on walks, how a texture feels, etc. I think what they learn with parents is as important if not more than what they learn in school.

Studies have shown that kids who start school already able to read, are usually at the same reading level as their non-reading classmates by grade 4 or earlier.

Reading is just a function of learning. There is still a maturity required to understand what is being read. A child may be able to “read” all the words in War and Peace but still have no idea what it’s about. I want a child who reads and understands (and hopefully enjoys) what he reads, not just a parent who identify letters and the sounds they make.

Brooke November 20, 2010, 6:17 PM

Preschool begins at age 4.

Anything before that is daycare. Just call it what it is.

Most “teachers” that work in a “daycare” (ages newborn to 4 years) are NOT teachers at all! They do not go to college. They do not have a degree. You are lucky if they have a h.s. diploma. There is not one state that requires it. Kindergarten… does!

So, please stop saying your child is going to school. You are fooling yourself and annoying Educators.

Julie December 6, 2010, 11:29 AM

Actually, my girl, who is three years old, her teachers have their certificates up on the wall right in the classroom. They are certified and they do learn. She wanted to go to school and enjoys it there. Hopefully that continues right up through high school. Keeping them tuned in will be the key.

sini December 21, 2010, 8:48 PM


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Mommy February 16, 2011, 8:52 AM

Our son just turned 3 and goes to a pk program at a catholic school. We have noticed a change in his behavior. He’s been crying and screaming a lot (He was a happier kid before September). He comes home tired because he didn’t take a nap in class or teachers skipped it for a birthday celebration, so he is wired by the time we are home and it’s late to put him down for nap because pushes bedtime. Every morning he says he doesn’t want to go to school. We don’t know what to do. He has learned so much and his vocabulary has developed incredibly. They pray and sing and everyday he brings home art but we don’t like him not being excited and happy. Like most young parents in NYC we wanted to enrolled our child in a program so he can play with other kids and burn some energy (and if you know about NYC and the long waiting lists —we had to sign him up in the one that had openings available) and it’s hard to go to the park in below zero degree weather. Are these signs that maybe the catholic school structure is not the best one or is it a sign that he’s not ready for school just yet? We are very concerned.

Jerald Worst March 16, 2011, 2:09 PM

bull logbook you admit

Shonta Falwell March 29, 2011, 5:48 PM

As a Newbie, I am continuously searching online for articles that can help me. Thank you

Renee U. Lucas April 10, 2011, 3:13 AM


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